Portland police are asking for the public’s help in finding a man who robbed a downtown restaurant at knifepoint Saturday night.

The owner of Mi Sen Noodle Bar at 630 Congress St. told the Portland Press Herald on Monday how a man had asked to use the restaurant’s bathroom, then approached the owner with a small kitchen knife and demanded that he open the cash register. When the owner pretended he did not know how to open it, the man took the entire cash drawer from the register and left the restaurant with it.

Portland police released some additional information Tuesday, saying the man walked or ran east on Congress Street and briefly tried to enter the locked passenger-side door of a car that was stopped in traffic on Congress Street at High Street. He was last seen running on High Street toward Spring Street, police said.

Police also released photos from surveillance video and described the robber as a white man about 6 feet 1 inch tall, with a medium build and scruffy facial hair. He was wearing an oversize dark-colored jacket over a beige shirt, a pink shirt and a green hooded sweatshirt, police said. Witnesses said he smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated.

In an interview Monday, Mi Sen’s owner, Darit Chandpen, 31, said he was happy no one was hurt, and that during the robbery, he pretended not to know how to open the register. “When he saw the cash register, he tried to open it, and he told me to open it, and I said I don’t know how,” said Chandpen, who has run the restaurant for nearly six years and has never before been the victim of an armed robbery.

Chandpen said he could smell alcohol on the man and at first believed that he was homeless.

Chandpen said when the man first came in, there were a few customers in the restaurant. But when the man returned from the bathroom, no one else was around, he said.

The robber walked past Chandpen, who was behind the register. The man then turned toward him and pointed a small kitchen knife at him, Chandpen said.

“I guess he saw that there weren’t that many people at the restaurant and he turned around and showed a knife and said, ‘Where’s the cash at? Where do we keep the cash?’ ”

“He pretty much couldn’t open it,” Chandpen said of the cash register, “so he took the whole thing and ran out.”

The addition of alcohol to the situation made Chandpen unsure whether the man might still hurt someone even if he had given over the money.

Portland police are asking anyone with information that might help to call the Portland Police Department at 874-8575.

Information can also be provided confidentially at www.portland-police.com, or by texting the keyword “GOTCHA” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES), or by leaving an anonymous message at 874-8584.

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